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The Safety Of Objects Review


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For all of Robert Altman's greatness, his lasting legacy to future filmmakers may be the wrongheaded assumption that anyone can successfully weave together sprawling, multi-character stories into a coherent thematic experience. With the exception of a scant few disciples (headed by the visionary Paul Thomas Anderson), these spiritual and technical descendents of Altman's films, too often hampered by schematic plotting and clumsy melodrama, routinely turn out to be wobbly facsimiles of Altman's operatic, multi-layered storytelling. The latest release that falls into said category is Rose Troche's The Safety of Objects, an uneven tale (based on the short stories of A.M. Homes) of intertwined suburban families dealing with grief and loss, and its failed bid for originality takes the form of an unreasonably high quirkiness quotient.

Despite an awful title that's perfectly suited for a hospital or construction site safety guide, the objects in question are not dirty syringes or rusty nails; rather, The Safety of Objects is brimming with narrative strands about people coping with life's most difficult and daunting elements (the loss of a loved one, sexual frustration, professional ennui) by focusing their quests for happiness on either their unsatisfying careers or mundane possessions such as dishwashers, guitars, and treadmills. Esther Gold (Glenn Close) fanatically dotes on her comatose songwriter son Paul (Joshua Jackson) in lieu of caring for her husband Howard (Robert Klein) and rebellious daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell). Neighbor Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson) is a single mother trying to take care of her two kids while waging a financial and personal battle with her ex-husband. Lawyer Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) can't see the forest from the trees because of his fixation with work, and his constant absence from his wife and kids has made him unaware of son Jake's (Alex House) creepy relationship with a Barbie-esque doll that speaks to him. And in a prime example of dysfunctional overload, we even get sexually frustrated, fanatically health conscious housewife Helen Christiansen (Mary Kay Place), as well as neighborhood gardener Randy (Timothy Olyphant), who's dealing with the death of his adolescent brother.

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The Safety of Objects Movie Review

The Safety of Objects Movie Review

For all of Robert Altman's greatness, his lasting legacy to future filmmakers may be the...

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